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Can someone explain intermittent fasting to me?

by (15)
Updated October 28, 2014 at 3:50 AM
Created December 11, 2012 at 6:25 PM

So I am 100% paleo(for 7 months), and have been in ketosis for a couple weeks and wanna try intermittent fasting. I am reading about the 24 hour and 16/8 periods of fasting/feeding, which I understand...but do I work out before or after the fast? Or during? I feel like I would be severely lacking in energy if I worked out during, but maybe I would get used to it. Also, if you have coffee or something during your fasting periods, it needs to be black, yes? No coconut milk or heavy cream to add fat?(more or less to reach the fat percentage for ketosis purposes..) Thanks!

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3432 · December 11, 2012 at 8:28 PM

I think the best way to time is to refeed after your workout. And, obviously, if you're using coffee to deliver your fats you'd want to keep that early.

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3432 · December 11, 2012 at 8:23 PM

Make sure you use a blender and get UNSALTED grass-fed butter. You'll barf if you put slated butter in your coffee.

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15 · December 11, 2012 at 8:22 PM

I've been using Ketostix and I am in ketosis according to them, and my carbs have been under 30grams and I feel awesome and energized, I just have a bit of a hard time with eating too much because I've been doing a 6 small meals pattern or 3 meals and 2 snacks pattern for so long before I started paleo (because all the other diets condition you to do that!)...so I thought the fasting might help me break those habits. Another (maybe stupid) question...the fasting includes hours you're sleeping, right?? So is it recommended to have all of your food in the evening and fast mornings?

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3432 · December 11, 2012 at 8:21 PM

If you're having energy or hunger issues, reach for the fats.

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15 · December 11, 2012 at 8:19 PM

I am doing everything from high intensity cardio to circuit training, heavy wait training and interval training. But I agree with Kashkillz on this one.

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3432 · December 11, 2012 at 8:19 PM

Unless I'm mistaken, ketosis IS the purpose. It is for me.

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15 · December 11, 2012 at 8:18 PM

Awesome, thanks for the advice. Maybe I'll try the bulletproof fasting. I feel like I can get used to working out fasted, especially since I have some symptoms of GERD so no matter how long I wait to work out after eating I have reflux problems while working out.

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3432 · December 11, 2012 at 8:16 PM

Whoops. I meant that to go with the OP.

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3432 · December 11, 2012 at 8:15 PM

I take 1Tbsp butter & 1Tbsp EVCO in my coffee 2-3 times before breaking my 'fast', which just becomes breaking ketosis.

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15 · December 11, 2012 at 8:14 PM

Yeah I'm not worried about it affecting the ketosis, I guess I am just wondering if I can have it while I'm fasting or if that defeats the purpose...and if not while fasting then do I have to try and stuff it all into the 8 hour window? Just seems like alot of fat to eat at once! =)

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3432 · December 11, 2012 at 8:13 PM

Yes. I would definitely take the fact that you're female into consideration. Not sure where that'd lead you, but it's worth it to check out. Hormone imbalance can easily override any potential progress.

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15 · December 11, 2012 at 8:13 PM

Well I am trying to hit 65% fat, 30% protein and 5% carbs.

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3432 · December 11, 2012 at 8:00 PM

Fat won't affect ketosis except to provide an energy source.

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3432 · December 11, 2012 at 7:59 PM

Enough fat and you'll be fine. Trust me on that.

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762 · December 11, 2012 at 7:06 PM

What do you mean to "reach the fat percentage"? Both not eating and eating mostly fat can put you into ketosis.

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10 Answers

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1032 · December 11, 2012 at 6:48 PM

It's up to you when you work out. I work out almost exclusively in the fasted state and feel like my energy is better fasted than if I've eaten a few hours beforehand.

Martin Berkhan of Leangains says that a tsp or two of milk/cream in your coffee won't really have any significant impact on the fast: http://www.leangains.com/2010/04/leangains-guide.html

Then there's the whole bulletproof "fasting". I am not experienced with it, but from what I've heard, you drink coffee with a good amount of butter mixed in. Some people say it's awesome, but I haven't tried it myself.

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3432 · December 11, 2012 at 8:23 PM

Make sure you use a blender and get UNSALTED grass-fed butter. You'll barf if you put slated butter in your coffee.

Ed7403e397077dd1acdbf25c7f6e56ce
3432 · December 11, 2012 at 8:16 PM

Whoops. I meant that to go with the OP.

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15 · December 11, 2012 at 8:18 PM

Awesome, thanks for the advice. Maybe I'll try the bulletproof fasting. I feel like I can get used to working out fasted, especially since I have some symptoms of GERD so no matter how long I wait to work out after eating I have reflux problems while working out.

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3432 · December 11, 2012 at 8:15 PM

I take 1Tbsp butter & 1Tbsp EVCO in my coffee 2-3 times before breaking my 'fast', which just becomes breaking ketosis.

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380 · December 11, 2012 at 8:08 PM

I recommend checking out the BBC telly special: "Eat, Fast, Live Longer" for an overview of the principles/benefits (though not from a paleo perspective): http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xvdbtt_eat-fast-live-longer-hd_shortfilms#.UMeQGaUcjtY

And also, as you are a girl (am presuming from your name) I recommend considering the concerns raised by Stefani Ruper of "Paleo for Women" blog in this article: http://www.paleoforwomen.com/shattering-the-myth-of-fasting-for-women-a-review-of-female-specific-responses-to-fasting-in-the-literature/

Fasting is apparently perceived by the female body as a stressor - and when done on an ongoing basis as a chronic stressor - generating a string of "self-preservatory" bodily responses which often includes shutting down "non-essential" functions like reproductive capacity. (While interestingly it can have the opposite (ie. "species-preservatory") effect on guys.)

To me it made perfect sense that women evolved as more (though not exclusively) gatherers and thus not extensive fasters (ie. some for the basket, some for me), while men evolved as more (though not exclusively) hunters (ie. long periods of relatively fasted tracking and pursuit (aka. fasted workouts), followed by a big ole feast after achieving the goal of bringing back prey.)

Good luck with your research and n=1 experiments - as with everything your individual results and experiences may vary from what is promoted by (often male) proponents of the IF elements of paleo thinking, as well as from other females who have tried it.

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3432 · December 11, 2012 at 8:13 PM

Yes. I would definitely take the fact that you're female into consideration. Not sure where that'd lead you, but it's worth it to check out. Hormone imbalance can easily override any potential progress.

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289 · December 23, 2012 at 3:17 PM

you work out in the last hour of your fast so on the 15hour that when you start your work out. Then on the 16 hour that when you done with you work out and get something to eat

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0 · December 23, 2012 at 1:54 PM

You know, fasting for ones or twice a month is better than nothing for sure but if you want to be MORE EFFICIENT, then you really need to step it up a bit but it doesn't have to be DRASTIC! Stressing out is the last thing you want to have. Basically what you need to understand is that in order to LOSE FAT, you NEED TO BE in a caloric deficit and Intermittent Fasting is just a way that I KNOW, it could help you GET LEANER, BIGGER, STRONGER and HEALTHIER. There are differet ways on how you can apply IF, you just need to do what works for you and don't get all anal about it because you don't want the ''yoyo'' effect. It needs to be something you can do short term as well as long term you know? If you want I'd be happy to offer you a FREE weight loss plan. If you, or anyone else that wants it, contacts me, I'll see what I can do...But you can do whatever you want

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827 · December 23, 2012 at 12:56 AM

Jen, consider unplanned fasting. When you start doing feeding windows and scheduled fasting, you risk entering into something your body just isn't ready for. I had no intention of ever doing any fasting until one just...happened. I was about 4 months in and realized I had skipped dinner without even realizing it. I woke up and ate breakfast as usual, no need for special powders or supplements. I still only fast when my body just doesn't want food. This happens once or twice a month, though the longer I stick with paleo the more often it seems to happen.

As for workouts, I'd recommend doing them at the end of a short fast, at least at first. If your experience is like mine, you'll notice that you get tired a little quicker during the workout. The workouts will feel tougher in the beginning. After a while fasted workouts will become a breeze, and they'll do wonders for your fat-adaptation.

When I first started doing fasted workouts, I found it impossible to avoid an afternoon nap unless I recovered with carbs, usually from potato or quinoa, so don't feel "faileo" if you need to carb up a bit afterward.

With regard to the coffee, the fat you add won't pull you out of ketosis, but it is technically breaking a fast.

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0 · December 22, 2012 at 7:49 AM

Intermittent Fasting IS NOT DIFFICULT! It's just SIMPLE and very EFFECTIVE if you want to GET RIPPED OUTTA YO MIND! You just need to understand the fundamentals and START APPLYING it. In fact I like it so much, I'm talking almost on all my articles about it because it WORKS! Check my blog out for more info if you want or you can do whatever...

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0 · December 14, 2012 at 3:54 PM

What are ppl eating? I was trying to maintain low carb but then read leangains advice and am now confused as to what's best!

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10255 · December 11, 2012 at 11:03 PM

if you consume anything but non-caloric drinks, autophagy will end. if that is a benefit you seek, stick to black coffee/tea/water. and just a thought; 16 hours without food is not starving; its hungry. IF will not induce stress like a 10 day fast.

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3432 · December 11, 2012 at 7:57 PM

I think bulletproof is 'awesome'. Blend grass-fed butter & EVCO into your coffee during the day. It supports the fasted state by not interrupting ketosis. I then work out 'fasted'. During my workout I take collagen and BCAAs. Immediately after I take a vegan non-soy protein powder. About half hour later I eat a sweet potato.

Starting with my post-workout protein I eat everything in 6 hours.

Shoot for .8g of protein per lb of LEAN mass. You can figure this quickly through Google.

Keep your total carbs around 40g. I don't know if this amount varies with sex/size. Maybe you'd look into it?

I always try to incorporate one nutrient dense protein source... farm eggs/quality seafood/liver... I rotate them because I'm OCD, but expect it makes nutritional sense.

Don't worry about fat calories, and don't be surprised if you end up eating less than you expected. It'll happen.

You can get some Ketostix to test your urine, to make sure you're not getting too much carbs/protein.

3 weeks in and I feel great. It's helped me over the hump with some stubborn fat spots (abs & love handle & thighs).

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3432 · December 11, 2012 at 8:28 PM

I think the best way to time is to refeed after your workout. And, obviously, if you're using coffee to deliver your fats you'd want to keep that early.

3b98fe5dd50ed3172f0669d4c8af6bce
15 · December 11, 2012 at 8:22 PM

I've been using Ketostix and I am in ketosis according to them, and my carbs have been under 30grams and I feel awesome and energized, I just have a bit of a hard time with eating too much because I've been doing a 6 small meals pattern or 3 meals and 2 snacks pattern for so long before I started paleo (because all the other diets condition you to do that!)...so I thought the fasting might help me break those habits. Another (maybe stupid) question...the fasting includes hours you're sleeping, right?? So is it recommended to have all of your food in the evening and fast mornings?

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363 · December 11, 2012 at 7:56 PM

You would mos def need to add more info such as workouts your gonna be performing . If Crossfit and in Ketosis thats HIGHLY NOT RECOMMENDED !!! As that will indeed lead to burnout .

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15 · December 11, 2012 at 8:19 PM

I am doing everything from high intensity cardio to circuit training, heavy wait training and interval training. But I agree with Kashkillz on this one.

Ed7403e397077dd1acdbf25c7f6e56ce
3432 · December 11, 2012 at 7:59 PM

Enough fat and you'll be fine. Trust me on that.

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